From harbourside eateries to stunning roof terraces, we've picked out some of the best places to eat al fresco in Bristol when the sun is shining...

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By the water

No.1 Harbourside

With plenty of room inside as well as seating out on the quayside, No.1 Harbourside is one of the best places to watch the hustle and bustle of this area of Bristol, while tucking into a tasty meal and local beer. The menu is weighted towards veggie dishes, with a couple of meat and fish options.

No.1 Harbourside Bristol
Credit: No.1 Harbourside

Arnolfini Café Bar

One of the most well-known corners of the harbour, the terrace outside Arnolfini has one of the best views going.

If you’re not dangling your legs over the quayside with a beer in hand (the café is managed by Bristol Beer Factory, so there’s usually a strong local offering to choose from), we strongly recommend trying their seasonal menu, ranging from freshly-made sandwiches to frittatas, burgers and salads.

Arnolfini Cafe
Credit: Arnolfini

The Stable

Pizzas, pies and cider, all with a strong West Country slant. The Stable is a great place for groups and a quick refuel on the harbourside. Cider newbies and aficionados alike will appreciate the cider tasting flights, allowing you to try several smaller measures at once.

  • Dining with a group or the family? Za Za Bazaar and Revolucion de Cuba are along the same stretch of the quayside and do great offers on food throughout the week.

The Stable Bristol
Credit: The Stable

Mud Dock

A staple of the Bristol café scene for over 25 years, Mud Dock’s balconies have some gorgeous harbour views which you can enjoy while devouring one of their breakfasts, or sipping a cocktail at sunset.

Mud Dock Bristol
Credit: Mud Dock

Riverstation

This glass-fronted restaurant is split across two levels, both of which have outdoor balcony seating. The downstairs area is more casual, where you can enjoy brunch, lunch and specially-crafted cocktails, while the upstairs restaurant has a seasonal menu and special dining events throughout the year, collaborating with local producers, breweries and distilleries.

You’ll also some find some top Mediterranean-inspired dishes and cocktails at Severnshed next door, which also has a small riverside balcony where you can watch the boats go by.

Outside seating and view of colourful houses at Riverstation
Credit: Riverstation

The Ostrich

Boasting one of the largest terraces in the city, The Ostrich is one of the city’s oldest pubs, but has been given a modern revamp, including a menu of small plates, burgers and BBQ in the warmer months. 

The Ostrich Bristol
Credit: The Ostrich

Paco Tapas

Bristol’s Michelin-starred tapas restaurant, situated in the serene Bathurst Basin, a small inlet just next to the harbour. As you’d expect, the food here is outstanding and the atmosphere is always buzzing. We recommend trying a bit of everything with the Chef’s Menu at £50pp.

While you’re there you can take a peek at Casamia next door. This restaurant is run by the same family and has held onto its Michelin star since 2009.

Paco Tapas
Credit: Paco Tapas

Gambas

Wapping Wharf has become a new focal point of dining on Bristol’s harbourside, and Gambas can definitely boast one of the best views of the businesses in the CARGO shipping containers. The menu is a mix of tapas favourites and seafood specialities, along with some summery Spanish drinks and snacks.

If it’s too busy, stroll a couple of doors down to sister restaurant CARGO Cantina for tacos, Margaritas and mezcal. It’s worth checking out the other brilliant businesses of Wapping Wharf during your visit, and if you’re keen on a view of the water, go for a veggie-focused dinner at Root, or feast on fish and chips at Salt & Malt downstairs.

Wapping Wharf
Wapping Wharf. Credit: Jon Craig Photography.

Broken Dock

Situated in the picturesque Brunel Quay, Broken Dock serves up a delicious brunch menu, as well as a great evening menu and award-winning roast dinners. If you’re after a more Mediterranean menu, try Spoke & Stringer next door.

You can catch the cross harbour ferry just outside Broken Dock across to Brunel’s SS Great Britain, where you’ll also find the cute Greenshank boat café, run by Bristol Packet Boat Trips.

Broken Dock Bristol
Credit: Broken Dock

The Grain Barge

You’re never far from a bar or restaurant on a boat in Bristol’s Floating Harbour, and The Grain Barge has to be one of the most popular. Sup a cider in the sunshine on the top deck, or get comfy indoors with one of their tasty meal deals, from Pie & a Pint to £12 steak dinners every Wednesday.

Grain Barge Bristol
Credit: Grain Barge

The Cottage Inn

This cosy pub next to Underfall Yard at the western end of the harbour has a menu of traditional pub favourites – we recommend the fish and chips! If you can’t find a seat directly outside, you can sit on the steps closer to the water and watch the ferries, kayakers and windsurfers.

If you’re looking for a quick coffee and snack, Pickle is a small café with some outdoor seating inside the Underfall Yard visitor centre. 

The Cottage Bristol
Credit: The Cottage Inn

Dine with a view

Bambalan

The biggest roof terrace in the city centre, it always feels like you’re on holiday at Bambalan, from the Mediterranean-inspired mezze and bab menu, to the seasonal cocktails (which are 2 for £10 from 4-9pm all week). They also do a fantastic brunch menu, and host terrace parties and special events throughout the year.

Bambalan Bristol
Credit: Bambalan

Goram & Vincent at the Avon Gorge

You won’t find a more iconic view in the city than from the terrace and restaurant of the Avon Gorge hotel – a breath-taking vista of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and Avon Gorge below. The menu at Goram & Vincent is a mix of classics such as steak and baked scallops through to dishes from their BBQ smoker such as beef brisket or pastrami.

If you’re looking for a bite and a few drinks, The White Lion Bar next door shares the same stunning view.


Credit: Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin

Lido

While the view may not be of gorgeous greenery or cityscapes, the restaurant at Lido has its own special view over the outdoor pool, which provides a relaxing vista while you’re waiting for your lunch or dinner.

The menu is a mix of tapas and Middle Eastern-inspired dishes, so between that and watching the swimmers do their lengths, you’ll struggle to remember that you’re still in the middle of the city!

Lido Bristol
Credit: Lido Bristol

Gardens and terraces

Racks

The terrace at Racks in Clifton is quite the suntrap, with plenty of seating and space, in contrast to the quirky alcoves of the bar indoors. Racks boasts a great range of offers, from their £5 lunch menu and steak & chips for £10 every Thursday, to prosecco for just £3 a glass until 7pm from Monday – Friday.

The Square Kitchen nearby also has a secluded garden if you’re looking for a quiet bite to eat.

Racks Bristol
Credit: Racks

Canteen

One of the most popular places to eat on Stokes Croft, Canteen has a great value menu of seasonal and locally-sourced dishes, which you can enjoy in the main bar area, or people watch from their front terrace.

Sister venue The Old Market Assembly also has its own popular outdoor space - a large roof terrace!

Canteen Bristol

Tobacco Factory

This popular café-bar in Southville is as large on the outside as it is inside, with a huge outdoor area which plays host to a large food & crafts market every Sunday. Choose from cakes, snacks and seasonal main menu dishes at the main bar, or there’s a pizza bar in the outdoor courtyard. 

Tobacco Factory Bristol
Credit: Tobacco Factory

St George's Bristol Cafe

Following a stunning renovation, St George’s transformed its café area, which now has a light and airy interior, as well as seating in the garden out front. The breakfast and lunch menus are very popular, although you’ll want to save room for the tempting cakes on offer too! A beautiful and tranquil spot away from the bustle of the city centre just a few minute’s walk away.

St George's Cafe Bar

Street food

Bristol also has more than its fair share of markets, pop-ups and street food events. Don’t miss St Nicholas Market, which has a selection of fantastic food stalls, ranging from pies and Persian wraps through to Caribbean curries, tacos, spicy Szechuan noodles and Japanese gyoza.

The streets next to the main market also host a variety of stalls throughout the week, including a Vegan Market on Mondays, Farmers Market every Wednesday, and an extended Street Food Market on Tuesdays and Fridays.

St Nicholas Market
Credit: St Nicholas Market

Other street food markets worth checking out include the extensive Harbourside Market, Finzels Reach Market every Friday lunchtime, Temple Quay Market every Thursday and the Tobacco Factory Sunday Market

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The best places to eat al fresco in Bristol

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